Warning on apartment renovations

Apartment renovations can be a challenge and it is essential owners double check they have all the approvals in place before they start, says Strata Community Association WA president Catherine Lezer, an experienced renovator.


Ms Lezer, who won the Refurbishment category at the WinConnect Apartment Awards in May, says permission from the strata company is sometimes not enough and renovations may need planning or building approval from the local council.


Her warning came after a building practitioner was fined $2,500 this month for carrying out unauthorised work at a West Perth apartment and submitting incorrect documents to the City of Perth.


Ms Lezer says a change of balustrade, windows or external appearance to a building are examples of some works that will generally need council approval.


“I have been caught out myself thinking that because it’s within the strata lot, no shire or council approval is needed,” Ms Lezer says.


“The council wanted to know all the details, especially with anything that wasn’t like for like, even to the extent that I removed carpet and installed wooden floating flooring.

“The council approved it, but they wanted to see the details and fire ratings of the floor and underlay.”


Ms Lezer says failing to get the proper approvals may also have insurance implications.

The Building Services Board this month found a Mount Hawthorn building practitioner negligent for carrying out work without a valid building permit at a West Perth complex.

In a statement, WA Building and Energy, part of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, says the City of Perth issued a building permit in December 2014 for balcony renovations at 11 apartments in the complex.


After the original project was underway, another apartment owner also decided to have their balcony renovated, it says.


A building permit application for the additional apartment was lodged in 2015, but before the permit was issued City of Perth officers discovered the work had already been completed, the statement says.


The application included a Certificate of Building Compliance apparently signed by a registered building surveyor who denied issuing the certificate, it says.


Building and Energy Executive Director Saj Abdoolakhan says unauthorised building work, including late additions to an existing project, is unacceptable.


“Disregard for the building approval process can put public safety at risk,” he says.